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House fires in Vancouver are a threat to your family’s safety which is why it’s important to always be prepared and aware of the risks around you. In Canada, there are over 24,000 house fires a year that result on average 400 deaths and over 3,000 injuries.
Since the start of the pandemic, more people are cooking at home, working from home, and staying at home which has increased, especially between the months of December and march according to the Red Cross.
And in more condensed cities like Vancouver, where more people live in apartment buildings, townhouses, and co-ops, the threat of fire is even more present.
In British Columbia alone, there have been nearly 100 facilities from house fires alone. Injuries that occur from fire are very serious: from third-degree burns to smoke inhalation, you and your family must be vigilant at prevention – not to mention the property damage done to your home.
In this blog post, we will go over some of the most common reasons for house fires and what you can do to prevent them.
Portable electrical heaters are very popular during winter, especially in larger, older homes. However, if not properly cared for, they can be a fire hazard. One of the biggest reasons electrical heaters are such a danger is because of the amount of current that they use. Most electrical heaters use around 1,500 watts which is approximately 12.5 amps.
While this amount of power is well in the accepted safety zone if working properly, the heater, power cord, receptacle and electrical wire could be damaged or worn after months of inactivity and can cause a fire, especially if left unattended.
Another common problem associated with portable electric heaters is the use of electrical extension cords. Typically, recommendations by the manufacturer state that the electrical space heater be connected directly into an electrical receptacle. The space heater should never be connected to an electrical extension cord or an electrical power strip.
Never leave a space heater on unattended and if you notice damaged or frayed wires, do not use it.
Your home’s wiring isn’t likely something that you think about but it’s what keeps your lights on, your house heated, and your appliances running. However, if your home isn’t wired properly or the wires just wear away which is often the case in older homes, it can start a house fire. There are common signs that can help you indicate if your house’s wiring isn’t working correctly like your fuse constantly blows if the lights dim when you use another appliance, or if you are only able to use one appliance at a time.
If you’re unsure if your wiring is faulty, enlist the aid of a professional electrician. An electrician can review the wiring throughout your home. Licensed electricians are knowledgeable in identifying potential dangers and wiring issues. Typically, electricians can detect small, seemingly insignificant wiring issues that could become major problems and safety hazards over time. It’s best to replace your wiring before it becomes a major issue.
We are constantly upgrading our electrical devices – phones, ipads, stereo system, televisions, computers and appliances. All these draw more power and tax your electrical system more than your old electrical devices.
The average Vancouver home is equipped with 200-amp electrical service and a distribution panel handling up to 40 fifteen-amp circuit breakers.
If your Vancouver home is even twenty years old, chances are it needs to be upgraded. For example, the thirty-year-old distribution panel in your basement or garage the one with the screw-in fuses are almost certainly a fire hazard.
Over time, the contacts deteriorate. The point of contact between the base bar and the base of the fuse oxidizes or charcoals. As current flows, increased heat is generated, leading to failure or fire.
When you upgrade your Vancouver home’s electric systems, you’ll rest easy knowing that you have greatly reduced the chance of a devastating fire.
One of the most common fires causing elements is the use of an extension cord in place of permanent wiring. Homeowners will take extension cords, and they will plug multiple devices into them for long periods of time. This can cause extension cords to overheat and cause a fire. Extension cords are designed for temporary use. Go with a good heavy extension cord if you’re going to use one.
If any part of the extension cord is hot while in use, it is a warning sign that it may be overloaded. Check if the extension cord is properly rated for the products that are plugged into it. Also, inspect the cord along its entire length to ensure it has not been damaged. If it is, then discard it safely.
Cooking is another common cause of fires in Vancouver homes. In most cases, these fires are started when something is left cooking on the stove for too long or when a pan is placed too close to the oven’s heating element.
While the stove is a common source of kitchen fires, other high-heat appliances such as microwaves and toasters may also cause fires if they aren’t used properly. In any case, it’s best to teach children that the kitchen is not a play area and that the oven and stove should never be used without adult supervision.
When the weather gets cold in Vancouver, many homeowners turn to a fireplace or wood-burning stove to stay warm. While these are great sources of heat, they’re also a major source of fire if not used properly.
Fireplaces and wood-burning stoves should only be used when someone is present to watch them, and they should never be left unattended for any length of time. Additionally, it’s important to keep flammable materials away from the stove to prevent a fire from starting.
It’s not just devices and appliances that potentially cause a fire in your Vancouver home. Clothing and candles are a major source of fire when coupled with negligence.
Clothing fires often happen when clothes are left near the stovetop or come into contact with an open flame. Likewise, candles should never be left unattended.
One of the best ways to prevent a fire from breaking out in your Vancouver home is to have a working smoke detector installed. These detectors will sound an alarm when there is a fire in the home, giving you time to evacuate and contact the fire department.
Smoke detectors should be tested regularly and ideally replaced every ten years. Additionally, homeowners must see that there’s no obstruction blocking the smoke detector’s path to the ceiling. If there’s any question about the detector needing to be replaced, contact a qualified electrician.
Aside from smoke detectors, homeowners may also equip their Vancouver home with carbon monoxide detectors. These devices sense the presence of carbon monoxide (CO) gas, which can indicate a fire. Like smoke detectors, these should be tested regularly and replaced after a decade.
But no equipment or technology beats vigilance and common sense. Homeowners should always be aware of what they’re doing when using electrical appliances, equipment, and power outlets. By being aware of the causes of fire, homeowners keep their families safe from potential danger. In addition, consulting with a professional electrician to ensure that each electrical device and appliance is installed safely and properly makes perfect sense.
Your first line of defence against any type of home fire is investing in smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, and carbon monoxide alarms, to help protect your home and family. According to Stats Canada, fires are most likely to start in the kitchen, bedrooms and living room so make sure that you have alarms and fire extinguishers in those locations.
If you’re unsure about the condition of your fire safety in your home, don’t be afraid to get in touch with PTX Electric. We can help you with an upgrade plan that fits within your budget while keeping your family safe. Give us a call today.